Panchakarma treatment, a Bio-cleansing regimen intended to eliminate the toxic elements from the body and thereby enhances the immunity of the body, is envisaged in Samshodhana Chikitsa of Ayurveda. Panchakarma increases the acceptability of body to various therapeutic regimens, and imparts radical elimination of disease causing factors and maintain the equilibrium of Doshas
The Five treatment measures comprehended as Panchakarma are: Vamana (Therapeutic Emesis); Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation); Anuvasana (Medicated Oil Enema); Asthapana (Medicated Decoction Enema); and Nasya (Nasal administration of Medicaments). Description of these five procedures is available in Charaka Samhita’s Kalpa Sthana, Shusruta Samhita’s Chikitsa Sthana and Ashtanga Hridya’s Sutra Sthana.
Vagabhatta in Ashtanga Hridya has enumerated five types of Samshodhanas, namely Niruha (Asthapana Basti - Anal Enema); Vamana (Therapeutic Emesis); Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation); Nasaya (Nasal administration of Medicaments) and Raktamokshana (Bloodletting)
Before a patient is put through these five Pradhana Karmas (main procedures) of Panchakarma, Purva Karma (preparatory measures) is given to the patient. This includes: Pachana (Ama Pachana & Deepana medicines like Shunthi Kwatha); Snehana (Oleation) and Swedana (Sudation).
After the main procedures, Pashchat Karma (Samsarjana Krama), a special diet and life regimen (period of convalescence) is advocated as post operative measures. Panchakarma therapy plays a definite role in the management of diseases especially of neuromuscular, rheumatologic and gastrointestinal origin. In addition to this Panchakarma procedures are utilized for the purpose of preservation, maintenance and conservation of health and the promotion of longevity.
Based on Ayurvedic principles and own experiences, the Ayurvedic scholars in South India have modified certain techniques/ procedures according to Dosha, Prakriti (body constitution), Kala (season), drug availability etc. These procedures such as Shashtika Shali Pinda Sweda, Pizhichil, Shirovasti, Shirodhara and Shirolepana, now practised as main procedures, are popular as Keraliya specialities of Panchakarma. These processes are specialized varieties of Snehana and Swedana which have more nutritive / nourishing effect than bio-cleansing or depleting effect.
However, before administration of Panchakarma procedures, all the procedures are carefully explained to the patient. The doses of drugs, vegas (urges) and frequency of procedures may vary according to the condition of the patient and/ or severity of the disease. At Arth Ayurveda, we assess the patient’s strength, constitution, age, season, disease stage and other relevant factors.
As explained at the outset, the Samshodhana Chikitsa (Bio-cleansing therapy) of Ayurveda, which includes Panchakarma treatment, basically intends to eliminate the toxic elements from the body and thereby enhances the immunity of the body. The toxic products of body metabolism can be broadly divided into water soluble, fat soluble and volatile substances. The volatile substances like carbon-di-oxide can easily be removed from the body through lungs. While there are a number of mechanisms available to get rid of the water soluble toxic materials through kidney, sweat and other body secretions, removal of fat soluble toxic materials is very difficult and only the liver can play a small role. Hence it is likely that there would be accumulation of fat soluble toxic products in the body. Liberal use of oil and ghee in various Panchakarma procedures makes it possible to eliminate these toxic products.
At Arth Ayurveda oil is used liberally in various Panchakarma procedures like Vamana (Therapeutic Emesis), Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation) and Anuvasana (Medicated Oil Enema) for removing toxic fat soluble waste materials. Prior to the five Pradhan Karmas (main procedures), Purva Karma (preparatory measures) i.e. Bahya Snehana (External oleation) and Sarvanga Swedana (Whole Body Sudation) are given to the patient. These procedures further help in removing toxic materials from the body. Swedana procedure using hot steam increases the local skin blood flow thereby enhancing the exchange process. It is known that the fat soluble toxic substances are stored in the body fat. Fat in the human body is largely located below the skin and inside the abdomen around the mesentery of the gut. During various Panchakarma procedures, exposure of skin and gut mucous membranes (which are very close to the fat stores) to a large quantity of oil seems to be a logical and ideal procedure. Repetition of these procedures over several days will largely remove the toxic wastes by concentration gradient. The Ayurvedic medicines added to the oil might give additional benefits.
One of the important features of these procedures is the safety and easiness by which these can be administered without any major side effects. Although the practitioners of modern systems of medicine do realize the individual variations in the patient population suffering from the same disease, most of them fail to appreciate these variations in practice. In Ayurvedic practice of Panchakarma, Dosha (fault or disease), Prakriti (body constitution), Kala (season), drug availability etc. are always of prime concern.
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